Royal Divorces! Political Scandals! Beheadings! Anglophiles love the Tudors—both the House of Tudor known for intriguing monarchs like Henry VIII, and the sexy Showtime series that recently entered its final season. Though most of the show is filmed in Ireland, you can certainly treat yourself royally while touring London and Southeast England. These 10 locations have a strong connection to the monarchs, and should please fans of both the Tudors’ fascinating history and the many books and movies regularly devoted to them.
1. Tower of London
Don’t be fooled by its name: the Tower of London is really a mini-city of towers, palaces, and fortifications complete with the Crown Jewels, legendary ravens, and a long bloody history. Two of Henry VIII’s wives—Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard—are just some of unlucky who lost their heads on Tower Green. Yeoman warder tours are a great introduction to the sprawling compound—just be thankful you didn’t enter via Traitor’s gate. Full review »
2. Hampton Court Palace
Upstream from London, this Thames-side royal palace is a combination of two magnificent buildings: a Tudor red-brick mansion plus a 17th-century baroque section designed by Sir Christopher Wren. You can explore Henry’s Great Hall, marvel at the ceiling of the Chapel Royal, and try navigating the famous maze on the grounds outside. Full review »
3. Westminster Abbey
Founded in 960 AD and consecrated in 1065, Westminster Abbey has been the site of many coronations and royal weddings. Henry VII funded the building of the lady chapel, which now holds his tomb as well as half-sisters Elizabeth I and Mary Tudor. The Tudor reign was a turbulent time for the Abbey, as Henry VIII dissolved the monastery in 1540 and it was re-founded by Elizabeth I as a Collegiate Church 1560. Full review »
4. Windsor Castle
Construction began on this castle in the 11th century and it is still occupied today—by Queen Elizabeth II of the Windsor dynasty. Just west of London in the Thames Valley, this sprawling structure has seen many royal families come and go, including the House of Tudor. Full review »
5. Leeds Castle
Set on two small islands on a lake, the interior of this fortress-turned-palace sometimes disappoints visitors compared to the dramatic exterior. Henry VIII enjoyed spending time here with his court. Full review »
6. St. James’s Park and Palace
The Tudor brick palace was built by Henry VIII and was once home to Elizabeth I; today it is the working office of Charles the Prince of Wales. While you can’t tour the inside, a stroll the royal park is a pleasant way to relax close to Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster (Parliament). Full review »
7. Ludlow Castle.
This ruined sandstone castle dates from medieval times, but has several links to the Royal House of Tudor. The massive structure dominates the small town of Ludlow along the Welsh Border. Full review »
Now demolished, Greenwich Palace was once a popular royal residence on the site of the Old Royal Naval Hospital. Today the borough’s maritime history is the main draw, but you can still prance around Elizabeth Oak in Greenwich Park. Full review »
9. Hever Castle
Thirty miles south of London, the 13th-century ancestral home of Anne Boleyn was also where Henry VIII courted her. Though renovated, the structure’s turrets and moats still fit the classic image of many a castle. Full review »
10. Hatfield House
Just north of London, Hatfield House itself wasn’t completed until 1611 but Elizabeth I learned of her accession to the throne in 1558 while living in the Old Palace. Full review »
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Photo credit: Image courtesy of Wikipedia